The last thing Grant had expected from an invitation to dine at 31 Soho-square was to find himself taking part in an orgy. Had he known what Mrs Strange had in mind, he would quite probably have declined the invitation. As it was, the sight of Strange astonished and scarlet-faced at his wife’s instructions after dinner had made Grant feel more inclined to turn and quit the field than at any time during his military career.
“You can’t mean that, Bell,” Strange protested, his voice shaking.
“Is gamahuche not the right word?” Mrs Strange enquired, with an air of innocent curiosity that Grant secretly admired, infuriating though it undoubtedly was. “I was sure I had read about the act by that name.”
“I have heard it called so,” Grant admitted, wondering where the devil she had picked it up. “Though I believe it is more often used of the act when – ah, performed on a female subject.”
Strange shot him a betrayed look, as if to say Oh god, not you as well!
“Then, dearest Jonathan,” Mrs Strange said, gently but firmly, “pray show me how you gamahuche the Major.”
Clearly it would be fruitless to pretend that the act was a thing unknown between them. What had possessed Merlin to tell his wife about their intimacies in the Peninsula, Grant could not imagine. Perhaps she had divined it by herself; she would be quite capable of doing so.
Strange did not move, but stood in the middle of the room, gazing from his wife to Grant and back again, the very picture of awkwardness and irresolution.
Grant looked to Mrs Strange for further instruction; he was not sure why he did so, except that this scene was so clearly one of her devising, and neither he nor Merlin seemed to know his cue.
“Major Grant, would you be so good as to assist him?” she said. “I know he wishes it very much, though he is too bashful to confess it.”
Strange crimsoned still further, a thing Grant would have thought not possible. There was a hunger in his expression that made Grant’s pulse beat higher. Very well, then.
“Merlin,” Grant said encouragingly, and stretched out his hands to him. “Come, kiss me first; it has been a long time.”
Strange stepped to him as if sleepwalking, and pressed his mouth against Grant’s. Grant embraced him warmly, and pushed his tongue between his lips, feeling the familiar rush of pleasure at the sensation and the thrill of Merlin’s response, slow at first and then more eager, his hands clutching at Grant’s hair.
“Ah, lovely,” Grant murmured in his ear when they broke apart for air. “You know what you do to me, what you always did.”
He pressed Strange’s hand against his prick, already half-hard in his breeches, and kissed him again, deeper this time. Strange moaned and rubbed the heel of his hand against him until Grant was dizzy and panting, heedless of whatever Mrs Strange was saying.
She was there, watching them as Strange dropped to his knees, unfastened Grant’s breeches, drew out his prick and took it in his mouth, dear god, Merlin’s mouth, hot and wet and perfect, how fiercely Grant had missed that and the feel of Strange’s hair twisted around his fingers as he tugged at it, making Strange groan around him. She was there, and it did not matter any more. Nothing mattered but the desire that coursed through him, the certainty of his approaching crisis, and Merlin, Merlin on his knees for him, intent on Grant’s pleasure and his own, utterly familiar, yet still as astonishing as the first time. Grant cried out and spent, clutching at Strange’s shoulders to keep from falling.
“Oh!” Mrs Strange exclaimed. “How beautiful you look together!”
Grant thought this altogether improbable, but had not breath enough to attempt a contradiction.
“You see how sorely Jonathan has missed you, Major,” she said, and Strange groaned.
Grant’s vision was still clouded, but he could just make out the stain on Strange’s breeches; it seemed that he, too, had spent himself.
“I had thought to have Jonathan take me while you buggered him,” Mrs Strange said, drawing another deep groan from Merlin, “but I fear that must be for another time, unless your powers of recovery are very superior.”
“Another time?” Grant echoed stupidly.
“Do sit down on the sopha, both of you,” said Mrs Strange. “It is far more comfortable than the floor.”
She poured each of them a glass of Madeira, sat down next to her husband, and waited until he and Grant had recovered some measure of equanimity before proceeding.
“It is really very simple, Major Grant, or at least I believe it should be. Jonathan loves both of us; we both love him. He has a great need to love and be loved, and I do not wish to deprive him of either of those things if we can find a modus vivendi that suits us all. I am not suggesting that you should shift your quarters and take up residence with us, but I hope that you might be a frequent visitor here, as our intimate friend and a partner in our pleasures.”
Grant gazed at her, and at Strange sitting between them, looking half-wild with disbelief and dawning hope.
“Merlin,” he said, as steadily as he could for the pounding of his heart, “is this what you want?”
Strange took Grant’s hand and then his wife’s, and kissed each in turn.
“More than any thing,” he said.
“Will you join us, Major Grant?” Mrs Strange asked.
Grant still did not know how such a thing was to be managed, but it seemed to him that if any one could manage it, it would be this woman. Good generalship, he had learned early in the army, was essential to the success of any campaign. Arabella Strange, fortunately for all concerned, bid fair to be a very good general indeed.
“I will,” he said.